It is so easy to be lured into the belief that someone else’s experience of family is better than your own.

As we try to make sense of the messiness of our own lives, it’s not uncommon to think that someone else knows something that we don’t know. Or, maybe they have something that we don’t have.

But did you ever noticed the shadow side of the white picket fence?

Does it remind you of anything?

Behind that fence can be the allusion that family and love is simple and clean.

It isn’t.

I’m in a wonderful relationship now with an amazing man but before that even started my high school boyfriend from 1966 looked me up. He’s been married to the same woman for over 45 years and from the outside it would appear that he and his family were living examples of the ideal. Sadly, he’s very unhappy in his marriage but doesn’t want to disappoint his adult daughters by leaving their mother. Eventually he will die lonely. We each make our choices for our own reasons and that’s ok.

True love can contort your heart in more ways than you can imagine. It can cause more pain than you thought possible to bear. It can also bring the ultimate joy. But, as far as I know, it’s not simple and clean.

I don’t know why it’s so hard for us all to find the comfort we need in our own situations and to love what is. I don’t really need to know why. I just choose to love.

It is what it is. There is no correct format for or version of family. They come in many different versions. They are even a moving target. That’s ok because that’s just the way it is.

Family is love. Family includes the people you love and who love you. In all its messiness and confusion, family is and always will be love.

Sometimes people will shift in and out of family. Sometimes the rearranging of family is just what is needed. It is what it is.

Love comes with the understanding that we’re all doing the best that we can at the time because we are. That’s the part that is less simple and clean. But, it is still family. It’s still real family. It’s still real love. It’s the love that each person chooses to give and to receive.

So, I don’t know about you but I say, bring on the bull dozer and let’s flatten that white picket fence. Let me get my sledge hammer so together we can smash the disappointments that the illusion of the ideal family carries with it.

Let’s free ourselves from the fairy tale. Let’s open the spaces and let in the sunshine. Let’s dance our own dances and paint our own pictures.  Let’s remove the shadows made by any and all white picket fences attempting to barricade our hearts from each other.

Let’s just love each other the way we are. Let’s be family.

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